Open Mic: How Do You Want To See Hardware + Software Modular Synthesizers Work Together?


Audulus software synthesizer developer Taylor Holliday recently shared some tantalizing images of Audulus working with his hardware modular system:


Here’s what he has to say about the images:

I’m working on getting Audulus to talk seamlessly with analog modular equipment.(To do this, we’ll need some MIDI output modules and some modules to calibrate CVs.

I’ve also learned a lot from the analog modular world and I’m going to incorporate some of those ideas (like easier CV units) into Audulus!

Any other ideas for making Audulus work well with analog modular equipment?

How do you want to see hardware and software modular synths work together? Do you want to integrate the two? If so – what do you want apps like Audulus to bring to your hardware modular?

35 thoughts on “Open Mic: How Do You Want To See Hardware + Software Modular Synthesizers Work Together?

  1. I’d love to see Audulus integrate with a hardware IO module so that you could route audio or control signals in or out of it seemlessly. I don’t know if something like the Expert Sleepers modules could work with Audulus like that, but this seems like something that’s currently more complicated than it needs to be.

    There are a lot of things that work great in software, like sequencing, digital audio effects, logic, routing and randomization. It would be great to have a hardware module that would somehow turn on when you open up Audulus and just work seemlessly.

    I’d also be interested in a hardware module that you could download Audulus patches to. Holliday teased that idea a while back with the OWL, but a Euro/5U module would be even cooler.

    1. @TJ, I’m with you! Seems like the ideal hardware would be a euro module with a bunch of ins and out that appears as a module within Audulus. I’m going to keep researching this. Maybe I’ll get in the hardware business too 🙂

      – Taylor

      1. @- Taylor
        not sure what your going to research ?

        just use your sound card
        ( any multi o/i sound card with dc coupling )
        already show up in Audulus

        or just use a expert sleepers euro
        or a midi to CV or cv to midi euro
        or the qunexus

        what you thinking of has always been invented


        1. Hey @FSK1138, I’m going to research how to make it really easy to integrate a hardware modular with Audulus in particular. (Incidentally, I own several of the products you mentioned and I’m quite familiar with what’s out there)

          – Taylor

          1. Taylor

            I’m excited to see where this leads. I only have a small modular, but I can see how much potential there would be with easier integration. I like the idea of simplying the way Audulus works with hardware modulars. Looking forward to some interesting demo videos from you!

  2. The more time I spend with my modular, the less and less I want it to have anything to do with a computer, except perhaps good, tight sync. I have a number of ways to get info from the computer to my eurorack (Volta, Kenton and Yarns midi interfaces, direct envelopes and such from Analog4). But they don’t get used. Just sync, and using the computer as a nice clean multitrack recorder.

    Sorry that’s not very useful input, for someone looking to making a better DAW-modular device. But it is perhaps useful to understand the market, I think the above is common.

    One thing that everyone is missing is good sync in the opposite direction – from clocks TO midi or a DAW. That could be a unique selling point.

    Another thing I notice is that while “computers are not allowed” near my eurorack, the iPad seems to get a dispensation. I do use iPad (cubasis) for occasional sequencing of euro modules, via midi.

      1. Hi Badcr, just minimally – ipad air, apple CCK lightning version, to small midi box (Missing Link, but anything that ipad can see and supply with sufficient power would do) to Mutable Instruments Yarns. Cubasis sends MIDI on up to 4 mono tracks. But really, I use the eurorack 90% for sequence basslines a la DAF, so even one channel would suffice. I tend to come up with basslines using a Rene, and then manually write them down (danger, some may be shocked) on paper or into Cubasis.

        1. Awesome – thank you very much for sharing – Yarns was the bit I really needed to know 🙂

          I’m very impressed and also a little envious that you have Rene, I only have about 4 hours experience with this beautiful bit of hardware and am saving up to get that and some other MakeNoise as soon as possible!

          Also very happy to hear your iPad is being used with your modular system – very very cool!

  3. with open source code. arduino based. Java/object oriented platforms to retain the modularity in the software. something that can also read object files. It would be nice to have something that can suck in any .o and feed the binary to serials and vice versa. Come on folks…make it happen before I do.

  4. would be awesome to have basic elements – such as ADSR, LFO’s, sequencing and such, go right from Audulus to a converter module to its destination on the modular. almost infinite animation, stacks of envelope animation only limited by the number of converter outputs (and patch cables) .
    I’ve had some success with max4live and various MIDI to CV converters, but it gets tricky trying to trigger/gate everything in a cohesive manner, ntm it takes a bit of configuring to get running, and i end up spending the majority of time with the mouse in hand. a proper converter + softwares would be great. expert sleepers stuff is great, but the software side is a bit limiting, can’t just make 8 envelopes (or 4 envs 4 lfos…. yaddayadda). Would be nice to see, especially from Mr. Holliday.

  5. @Taylor Holliday,

    That looks awesome. But my question is, what is the parts list for that modular rack? Looks like a pretty good starting point.

    1. @James, well, its sort of half synth-voice and half drum modules. I’ve got Mutable Instruments Yarns, Braids, and Ripples. And then the 909 Kick, Clap, and Hats and the Mix-Z from Tip-Top Audio. I’m planning on doing most of the modulation from within Audulus, so I can save money on envelopes, etc 🙂

      – Taylor

      1. Taylor – I really like the idea of using Audulus and an iPad as a ‘brain’ that controls a modular. I’ll be interested to see where you take this.

        I’ve used Phaedra sequencer on an iPad and that immediately gave me a sense of the possibilities. Hardware step sequencers are cool, but extremely expensive and limited, compared to a cheap app and an iPad.

  6. Excellent news – what a great idea!

    We started a iOS and Modular group over at SynthPatcher a while back, a very small group, but we’re having some good discussions and we hope it will grow as we believe the potential with iOS and modular is huge 🙂

  7. I’d love to see some kind of scalable eurorack audio interface / midi controller. Something with 2×2 DC coupled audio io (+/- 5v and with proper v/oct calibration), 4 high resolution programmable pots/sliders (cc or nrpn), one or two clock/gate io, and the ability to chain multiple modules through an internal bus to create a 4, 8, 16 or more io system. This would bring Reaktor or Max or whatever else you feel like running out into your modular in a real and meaningful way.

  8. I actually might suggest talking to the iConnectivity guys. They’re doing excellent work with their iOS/PC/Mac integration devices and about to get into the Audio game soon. They “get it” and I’d be willing to bet they’d have some interesting perspective on MIDI to CV integration.

  9. I’d like to see someone develop a standard of communication where voltages can be routed across an entire system and between modules of various manufacturers.

    It would work as follows:

    Using buttons instead of patch cables. Holding a source’s output button and then its destination (or multiple destinations) simultaneously would route the voltage to it’s desired module input.

    No need for mults. No need to patch. ALL voltage access points and digital patchbay settings could be recalled instantly. True modular freedom with all the modern enmities.

    We have the eurorack standard… the 1v per octave standard… why not create one for this? The signal path would still be 100% analog, and a digital brain would allow for patch naming and recall.

  10. Yes, you really should get on a flight to London and visit Andrew Ostler from Expert Sleepers! His ES-3 interface module is brilliant. The thing that is not always realised about the ES-3 is that it doesn’t just do eight channels of high-precision, low-latency CVs and triggers from the computer to the modular, but it is also an 8 channel 24-bitlow noise high-quality audio output interface as well, but with the audio output at modular levels, not typical line levels. Thus, it is great for running digital oscillators on the computer, and then feeding them through analog filters, distortion etc in the modular at typical modular signal levels – all under CV control from the computer as well. The ES-6 module does the reverse, taking modular level CVs or audio back into the computer. Of course, the ES-3 and ES-6 require ADAT optical interfaces on the computer (or on a hardware audio interface connected to the computer). Hardware which provides the same modular-friendly interface ability over more commonly available interfaces would be great, especially if it could be chained (8 channels is too few, and the Expert Sleepers method of multiplexing additional channels via add-on modules at lower resolution is a bit ugly, although multiplexing gates which are just 1 bit obviously makes sense).

  11. Hardware I/o patching could be very cool but I can see it taking a while to get right. How about a hybrid interface stepping stone where we can use an ipad synced with the OSX app (via USB would be fine) to draw patches in real time with intelligent zooming of panels and fast A-B comparison) and have them take effect on the Mac with its larger display and Audio integration?

  12. Clavia did modular hardware/software integration better than anyone with their nord modular line, then they abandoned it.

    this is a market that is wide open: patch on the computer and then store & run your patches computer-free on stable, dedicated hardware with knobs & displays. if you could get Audulus running in a system like this i think it would be very popular.

    1. Or: patch DSP with hardware jacks (you buy a matrix as large as you need, think Monome with banana jacks instead of buttons).

  13. Sounds a bit like the ‘plug-out’ concept of Roland’s new Aira synth, only user configurable rather than recreating fixed architectures of classic instruments. The Nord Modular in short! Guess you can achieve much the same with iPad and the knobs on a good controller keyboard;)

  14. Why the mid 2010 mac only stipulation ? I have a 2009 mac pro. The hardware is practically identical and runs all other 64 bit apps including latest OS. Can’t see a good reason for this

  15. I’ve been playing with this sort of thing for a while. Using Max for Live devices to send CVs and gates via a MOTU interface to my 5U rack. Had to put together a board with non-inverting voltage amps to get full range. Got auto tuning to work too. The ideal setup for me would be a rack hosting minimum a couple of VCOs, a filter and a VCA. The ideal (5U for me, 3U for more delicate fingers and better eyesight) module would have a multi channel class compliant USB to analogue converter to do CVs and gates and computer generated audio, some analogue ins for tuning and calibration and audio to DAW and a panel with an array of assignable control knobs and switches. Could be done very cheap and be hugely powerful with the right software. Actually Max4live is ideal for it. Going to spec this module up tomorrow. Feel an Arduino frenzy coming on.

  16. I want to use a launchpad or other grid controller as a patch matrix and nanokontrols as sliders. With much less initial setup and a patch cord interface for mapping the functions so I can see and remember what it’s all doing! 🙂

    I have euro modular it’s great, but I’d really love a modular way of thinking to use all the cheap, fun midi devices that are available. Max works but it’s kind of overkill If you just want to get up and running. Something like the nord modular interface – with it great morphing functions – to manage all your control interfaces in one place and then potentially send cv out from there. I think most people under utiliise midi controls because it’s not so great to set up, by the time you’ve figured out mapping and sysex and whatever else often you’ve forgotten why you were setting it up in the 1st place. 🙂

    And because I find cable management and lack of patch recall gets old from time to time in terms of setting up interface methods with hardware modular.

  17. I built this looking for similar flexibility in having a programmatic controller with flexible IO ( Biggest downside was that the Arduino requires some adventurous programming, but I’ll be releasing a firmware soon that uses JSON-based sketch definitions stored on the microSD card.

    Biggest benefit is that it gives you some programmatic flexibility, but does not require the PC-connectivity. Some people want it, some people don’t. Personal preferences of course.

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